03/04/13 — Nick Quillen defends wrestling state championship

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Nick Quillen defends wrestling state championship

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 4, 2013 1:47 PM

GREENSBORO -- Adrenaline coursed through his veins.

His pulse quickened.

His heartbeat pounded loudly in his head and drowned out the noise from a roaring crowd when turned his opponent onto his back.

It seemed like eternity.

In reality, it was just 30 seconds.

That's all Nick Quillen needed to successfully defend his 126-pound state title during the season-ending N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A individual wrestling championships contested at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday evening. The Rosewood High senior polished off a 59-1 campaign by becoming just the second two-time state champion -- in any sport -- in the school's athletics history.

"It was a pretty wild, crazy, fun weekend," Quillen said.

Less than two months after surpassing 200 career victories, Quillen further etched his name into the Wayne County record books. He emerged the first grappler to win consecutive state titles since Goldsboro High great Lester King accomplished the feat in 1969 and 1970. The NCHSAA held "open" championships at that time, meaning that all wrestlers -- regardless of the school's size -- competed in one division.

"This was a befitting end to a high school career like none other at Rosewood," Eagles head coach Bill Edmundson said. "Nick deserves these titles. He has put in the work and sacrificed to achieve his goals. He is a winner in the truest sense of the word."

No doubt.

But even Quillen battled butterflies the night before he stepped onto the big stage for his first match in his last state-tournament appearance.

Emotions churned through his head as he talked with Edmundson. Quillen vowed not to let anyone down and promised to leave his entire effort on the mat. Win or lose, he planned to have fun since it was his senior season.

Quillen started his state-title quest with a 16-1 tech fall over Cherokee's Levi Sweargengin in opening-round action. Later in the day, he clinched a spot in the championship match with a 2-minute, 49-second fall over Rosman's Breyer Owen in the semifinals.

One bout remained.

Western Regional champ Alex Preudhomme of Bishop McGuinness stood between Quillen and his second state title. Calm, relaxed and dressed in a retro purple-and-gold singlet, Quillen walked down the stairs toward the warm-up room and thought about the last match of his stellar prep career.

The Chatham Central coach was in the room.

"I asked the coach if it was OK that I wasn't nervous and he said I was crazy," Quillen laughed. "But I was ready to wrestle. I've never been so prepared for a match in my life."

Pruedhomme took a deep shot on the opening whistle and scored the initial takedown to start the championship bout.

Quillen countered by getting his hips out and eventually locked one of Preudhomme's legs. He turned Preudhomme onto his back, the ref checked the shoulder blades and blew his whistle as he slapped the mat.

It was Quillen's 29th consecutive victory and 120th overall in his last 121 outings.

"It was slow motion, felt like I had him pinned for three hours," Quillen said. "When the ref hit the mat, Coach Ed pointed at me and said 'you just won'. I jumped into Coach Ed's arms and yelled 'two times' (state champion) just as loud as I could.

"It's a feeling I wish everybody could feel. It's like I died and already went to Heaven. (My career) has been absolutely amazing. I wouldn't change anything about it."